Battery Safety

Battery Charging Facility Safety Guidelines

Battery Charging Small Facility Safety Guidelines

Always match the battery charger to the charging requirements of the specific battery. Failure to do so may result in permanent damage to the battery and charger and cause injury.

Excessive or over rapid charging may result in overheating of the batteries, opening of internal non-resetable thermal fuses, deformation of the battery case, venting or leakage of the battery electrolyte through the pressure vent and/or the release of hydrogen gas.

Care must be taken to separate Nickel-Cadmium and Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries from Lead-Acid batteries. Rechargeable batteries must always be separated from non-rechargeable batteries.

When setting up a charging facility for more than one charger in a single area, exhaust ventilation must be provided. The tightness of the facility, the amount of open air space, and the number of chargers will determine whether natural draft ventilation is sufficient or whether forced draft ventilation is required. For example, charging batteries in a tent would merely require opening two or more tent flaps for cross ventilation. On the other hand, charging in a closed small shelter would require forced draft exhaust ventilations. Exhaust ports should always be placed high as Hydrogen gas rises.

Larger facilities should maintain Personal Protective Equipment including goggles, protective gloves, and an apron in the unlikely event of having to handle leaking batteries. An eyewash fountain should be available in the vicinity. Lacking these items, provision must be made to access immediate medical assistance.

Mobile Charging Facilities Safety Guidelines

Note: Nickel-Metal Hydride, and Lithium Ion batteries MUST NOT be charged or serviced in the same area as Lead-Acid batteries. Mixing alkaline electrolytes with acid electrolyte can have explosive results.

Primary (non-rechargeable) batteries must be kept separate from Secondary (rechargeable) batteries.

A local Standard Operating Procedure must be developed for all facilities. Obtain Manufacturers Safety Data Sheets for all batteries being charged.

Safety Equipment Required:

  1. 10 lb. Fire Extinguisher(s), Class A-B-C appropriately located near exits and mounted. Placard the location of each fire extinguisher with the standard red arrow. Coordinate fire extinguisher selection with the local Fire Department.

  2. Portable eye wash station, IAW ANSI Z358.1-1990. Locate the eye wash station so that the nozzles are 36-42 inches off the floor. Connect a drain from the eyewash through the floor or wall of the shelter. Make sure that there are no traps in the line, that the exit of the drain pipe faces down and that the end of the pipe is covered with a removable (for cleaning) insect screen.

Personal Protective Equipment Required:

  1. Chemical resistant splash goggles, NIOSH approved, (quantity l).

  2. Long cuff neoprene, rubber or latex-nitrile gloves, quantity 3 pair, and chemical resistant apron.

  3. Heat resistant gloves.

    Note: Nickel-Cadmium, Nickel-Metal Hydride, and Lead-Acid Batteries can all liberate Hydrogen Gas if overcharged. This lighter than air gas is extremely flammable. Smoking is never permitted in the charging area.

    Lead-Acid Batteries contain Sulfuric Acid which is corrosive and can burn the skin. If any of the electrolyte comes in contact with the skin wash with soap and water. Seek medical attention if burning persists. If the electrolyte gets into the eye, was with copius amounts of water and seek immediate medical attention. Leaking batteries must always be handled with chemical resistant gloves.

    Drinking, eating, smoking, chewing tobacco or gum, applying cosmetics, etc. are not permitted in the area when handling or charging batteries.

Operational and Design Considerations:

  1. The charging vehicle must be grounded with its own ground rod. It must also be bonded with the ground of the incoming external electrical power source.

  2. All electrical wiring internal to the charging facility and all battery chargers must be suitably grounded.

  3. All charging areas must have forced draft exhaust ventilation. The exhaust fan motors are to be of non sparking construction. The exhaust fan must be interlocked so as to shut down the charging operation if the local fan fails. It is recommended that the exhaust ports be covered with a closable cover to protect the interior from the weather during movement. If such covers are provided, an interlock must be provided to prevent charging batteries with the covers closed. A fresh air makeup must also be provided to compensate for the air exhausted.

  4. The exhaust volume should be a minimum of 6-8 air changes per hour, and must be set up to maximize the velocity across the charging batteries. Local velocities at the charging batteries of 50 Ft/Min are desirable. Place the exhaust ports near the top of the charging area as Hydrogen gas is lighter than air and naturally rises.

  5. All shelving or racking for the battery chargers must be of open construction to permit free air circulation.

  6. Environmental Control Units must be provided to maintain the temperature within the shelter between 50˚F. and 90˚F. whenever charging batteries.

  7. Batteries should never be charged while the charging facility is moving. Batteries must always be stored in suitable containers in such a manner that they will not short out one another whenever the shelter is moving. Provide a means of holding down the containers of batteries during movement. Further, all chargers must be securely mounted in place.

  8. Prior to setting up the battery charging, conduct an inspection to insure that all connections are in place and tight. Make sure that all covers over the exhaust ports are open.

  9. Examine all batteries for any signs of damage such as bulging, deformation or leakage prior to placing them on the chargers. Operate all battery chargers IAW with the appropriate Technical Manuals.

  10. Dispose of all damaged batteries IAW with local regulations.

  11. Store all Primary (non-rechargeable) batteries away from the charging areas. Never, store Primary Lithium batteries inside the facility.



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